Earlier this year, in the midst of the state labor shortage, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced plans to create a program designed to help improve child care centers across the Garden State so that parents would be able to have their kids in a safe and nurturing environment as they went off to work.

On Wednesday, New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy announced the EDA will begin accepting applications for grants from the $54.5 million New Jersey Child Care Facilities Improvement Program on Nov. 15.

She said if a mom or dad is unable to take their child to a safe and sound environment “and leave them there and feel confident that child is going to be handled in a proper manner, then that mother or father is not only unable to go to work, they’re unable to possibly go to school.”

This is our future

“We need to make sure that we are both getting people into the workforce, keeping them in the workforce, and also investing in what will be our future workforce which is our children," Tammy Murphy said.

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She said when children are in a proper child care environment from an early age, it sets the stage for productivity now and in the future.

“They are learning about socialization, they are learning about structure and routine, this is an investment in our families, this is an investment in our economy.”

She pointed out that when the child care crisis began during the pandemic it became clear “that having good access to ventilation, having light and the ability to participate in a clean environment, that is essential to making progress and moving us all forward as a state.”

Phase 1 of the program will provide nearly $15 million in grants of up to $200,000 to licensed child care centers in New Jersey to cover the costs of a wide range of facility improvements, including the expansion of classroom space, which can increase student headcounts, as well as allow for the purchasing of other critical infrastructure needs such as replacing windows or flooring or even playground equipment.

Teacher coloring with girls
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Let kids thrive

Murphy said this program “really strives to make sure that child care providers serving low-income children receive funding not just to survive but to thrive.”

Forty percent of the funding in phase 1 of the program, which is coming from American Rescue Plan funding, as well as an additional $4.45 million in state funding, is set aside for qualified underserved areas in the Garden State.

“I think that’s immensely important as we work on equity across our state,” she said.

You can get more information about the New Jersey Child Care Facilities Improvement Program here.

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